Category Archives: chickens

5 Roosters = Soup

Last night we took our 2 remaining turkeys and 5 roosters to the processor. The roosters were all Barred Hollands from the batch of heritage breed chickens I ordered in the spring. I had high hopes for the heritage breeds but the Barred Holland is not a winner in my book. The roos are very aggressive, much like the Barred Rock rooster that we gave away to our neighbor last year because he was beating up all the other birds. I watched them for quite awhile during feeding and the Holland roosters would grab feathers out of the other birds for no reason at all. The Buckeye hens were taking a real beating because they are so docile. I’m very happy with the Buckeyes and the Buff Chanteclers so far, more on that some other time.

I googled how to cut up a chicken and studied several of the results. Last time I attempted to cut up some hens it didn’t go well. This time I removed both legs and both wings, then I cut the birds through the ribcage on each side. I discarded the back and neck and kept all of the other pieces to make canned chicken soup with. The five young roosters yielded 5 quart Ziploc bags of pieces. I removed all of the skin except that on the wings so it will be easy to pick the meat off later.

BTW, the computer is fixed (at least for now) so we’re now back to regular programming. I’ve been a little unplugged from technology this week and strangely enough, I’m enjoying it. I’ve been trying some new organizational techniques to help me stay on track around here. So far, so good. Staying on top of things is so much easier than constantly trying to catch up but it still takes a lot of time.
Have you ever canned soup? Cut up chickens? If not, what are you canning or preserving right now?


They’re chickens, not ducks!

So the chickens are drinking so much in this hot weather that we drug the hose right out there. Every few days we drag it back and fill the other animal’s big tanks. Tonight I went out and watered the chickens… then I came back up and we worked on the fence for about 3 hours. We finished it and weaned the lambs by putting them out on pasture and leaving the ewes in the garage. I’m hoping their milk will dry up this week – they won’t get any grain and will have only old hay this week. The babies are crying but the moms don’t seem to mind much right now.

Once the hard work was all done Brian went up to grab a pail of water for the lambs. Guess what? I had left the hose water on. For. 3. hours. Brian suggested I go check and see if they needed a life raft. They didn’t, since there shelter was there raft surrounded by 2 inches of water on all sides. I knew I put a floor in that thing for a reason!! Too bad the flooding wasn’t Mother Nature’s fault instead of mine. What a waste. The good part is that the water will absorb overnight and the chickens were enjoying running through it.

A lot of money could be made if someone would invent a buzzer that sounds after the hydrant is on for a certain amount of time. When I used to keep my horses at my Dad’s he finally made me hang my truck keys on the hydrant when I turned it on so that I couldn’t leave without checking it. Anyone have a similar idea for watering at home? Anyone else make this mistake or forget something else and cause waste in the process? C’mon – make me feel better, please!

Poultry Update – Cattle Panel Shelter – Pics

Well, the eggmobile sits empty. Part of the reason we finished it when we did was because the rooster was getting so mean I could hardly get the eggs anymore. Once the birds were out on pasture I could easily gather them at least once a day. Sadly, the hens must have learned to eat their eggs during that week when I wasn’t collecting them very often. I first culled the rooster and one hen that I suspected as being the culprit. Unfortunately, the eating continued and we were forced to cull the remaining 5 hens. I am very glad that this happened with such a small flock and not the large one that I hope to have in the future. Lesson learned here: no matter what – get those eggs!!

So, now we have around 121 chickens and no eggs! I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to buy a few layers to get us by or just get our eggs from a friend for now. If I bring in new layers now I’ll have to mix them with the heritage breed flock when they start laying. If I don’t get any now then I’ll have to stop trying to build a future client base by handing out free eggs.

The heritage birds moved from our basement to a small brooder in the garage to the old laying flocks quarters in the garage. The colored rangers went directly from the basement to the laying flock quarters then to the cattle panel shelter just in time for the heritage birds to follow. We could have turned one of the two brooding lights off by now except two of the colored rangers have developed pretty nasty sores on their tails so I have them in the small brooder as sort of a hospital pen. The one with the worst sore died this morning, I’m hoping the other pulls through.

The heritage breed chicks are doing great. We had a power outage last week so I brought them in the house to keep warm. Despite my efforts they all piled up and one of the Buff Chanteclers was dead in the morning. The remaining birds are thriving in their new, spacious quarters. You can read more about the breeds I selected and why in my post about that.

I took out some dry straw for the colored rangers in the cattle panel shelter. They’ve been out there about a week but I only let them out of the shelter and in to the fence this weekend. The electric net has to be working well in order to contain them. Otherwise they can put their head through and push right out.

See the one sprawled out there in the middle? They sure are good at making me think something is wrong. He was just relaxing, of course.

This morning’s rain showers tore part of the roof off. I secured it with more baling twine. Pretty fancy! 🙂

Happily lounging on the fresh, dry straw after I repaired the roof.

I need to have a better feeding and watering system in place for next time. This big feeder from the eggmobile is the only way I can keep food in front of these buggers.

Some prefer to scratch around and explore.

Napping peacefully.

He’s trouble, can’t you tell!

Here you can see the different colors. Most are dark red but there are some light, almost buff, and some with this neat pattern.

The turkeys are right at home in this small chicken tractor. We found two of these on craigslist and paid $15 total for them.

Aren’t they cute!? They really are the sweetest birds I’ve had.

How are your birds doing? Have you ever tried pasture raised chicken? I am so excited to taste it, although I am really worried about preparing it and working with whole chicken since that will be new to me.

Cattle Panel Chicken Shelter: Part 1

This have been a bit crazy around here lately and I plan to update y’all soon. In the meantime I want to share how we’re building another great (hopefully) chicken shelter.

I used treated 2″x4″ lumber for the base. The two side boards are 10′ long and the three in the middle are 12′ long. Place the 10′ boards on the outside on the 12′ boards as shown.

You’ll need 3 sheets of 4’x8′ treated plywood to make the floor. There are plenty of good designs out there for shelters without floors. I have too much money and time invested in our broilers to risk losing them to predators or flooding, thus I want a floor.
With the 2″x4″s set up the way I have them the plywood will not fit perfectly. I did this on purpose to provide as much floor space as possible. Position the plywood in from the edges the width of the 2″x4″. There may still be a small gap but the sides angle in enough that I don’t think it will cause any problems. Or, if you’d prefer, you can frame it to fit exactly.

Here you can see the cattle panels on and the three braces. Put the panels on first. You’ll need 2 standard cattle panels 16′ long and you’ll need to overlap them a few inches. You may want the front panel to stick out a few inches in front of the floor to provide an overhang. Hammer in fence staples to hold it on the 2″x4″. Have someone help you pull up the other side or use a rope to hold the curve, then secure the other side. Repeat with the second panel. It helps to wire the two panels together in a couple places before securing both ends.
We added the braces later after measuring exactly how tall the panel was in the place we wanted. The two braces in front will provide a door way so make the gap as wide as you need. We screwed the two braces in from the side so they sit on top of the floor. The back single brace is attached to the back of the 2″x4″ for extra support.

Next, attach chicken wire around the sides and the back. I used some that I had, about 2′ tall I think. You can see the fence staples holding the cattle panel in place, along with the regular staples holding the chicken wire to the lumber.

Here you can see how I held up the top of the wire. Simply use more wire to pull it taught against the panel. I’ll have to get a better picture showing the wire from far away. As I said, I’m only putting a short piece around the 3 sides. The tarp covering should contain the birds from there.

Stay tuned for the next steps, especially if you can’t quite picture the final result. This project is more of an experiment than the eggmobile but I’ll share how it works for us and any changes we make. I did get a lot more accomplished on it today so expect an update soon.

Building An Eggmobile: Part 2

This is a follow up post to Building An Eggmobile: Part 1.

I apologize for not taking pictures of each step this time. We were both wore out and just wanted the thing done!

Tall side: We went with a chicken wire front here for ventilation with intentions of a roll down tarp to cover the front if needed. The door is split with a small door at the bottom. This was easier than making separate little doors for the chickens.

One end: You can see the black soot from the fire. We salvaged all the siding from the shed that burned.

The front end with the hitch. We’ll use the four wheeler to move it around and prop it up so it will sit level.

The rear aspect: This is our favorite part!! No more squatting down to reach for eggs while Mr. Rooster plans his attack on your hind end.

The egg door opens downward so you don’t have to hold it up while gathering eggs. I put a little straw in the boxes for now but would like to switch to washable mats.

Umm…a little privacy please!?

Here’s what is left to do:
Secure a board across the top of the nest box. The hens have already knocked out 2 of the top dividers.
Hang curtains in front of the boxes.
Install roosts. Along with the curtains this should deter roosting on the nest boxes
Paint the outside.
Build a ramp for the chickens.

The most important part to do yet is install a new fence charger and set up the poultry netting. I’ll share more about that when we get to it.

The total cost in $$$ for us was about $45. $40 for the trailer and $5 for screws. We salvaged all the boards, plywood, and siding material from the burned shed. The chicken wire and nails have been around for awhile. The caulk was free after rebate at Menard’s a long time ago. I did use some staples to secure the chicken wire to the front. Even if you purchased all new materials I think you could build this thing for around $500, based on prices in our area. I didn’t do that math, that is just a rough estimate.

Total time involved was probably around 10 hours. Things would have gone a lot faster with new lumber. There was a lot of cutting and measuring to make our boards fit were we wanted. Plus, we were tearing things off the old shed and pulling a lot of nails out of the boards as we went. If anyone would like more details or measurements just ask.

Any questions or comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions or help with ideas for your own eggmobile.

The Chickens Have Moved In!

The hens seem to love their new nest boxes!! As soon as I put straw in them they were all about it. There were 3 1/2 hens in one box at one point. Overall, we’re both thrilled with how it turned out, at least so far.

I’m not going to post many details tonight because I’m exhausted! Brian and I haven’t been in the house before 10 o’clock since Tuesday night, thus the lack of posts since then. We worked on the eggmobile Wednesday and Thursday nights. Tonight he worked ground while I mulched the garden and cleaned out the old coop. I’ll let it air out tonight and move the new chicks out there in the morning.

Have a good one! 🙂

Chick City and a Rough Night

Well, Becker Farms is now the proud home of 99 Colored Range chicks! They arrived Friday and I was able to get them home from the post office and settled before going to work. I took the above video that morning. Aren’t they fun to watch! I’m thrilled with how vigorous they are. I didn’t have to show them how to eat or drink, they just jumped right in. They do need a bigger space so I’m going to work on the eggmobile today. Right now the chicks are in our basement. Once the big chickens are out the old coop is going to be our brooding space. We did have one fatality yesterday, it was very weird and I still don’t know why it happened. The chick had a bum leg and a sore on it’s belly. Honestly, it looked like a little piece of intestine had come out and wrapped around the leg. It was horrible and I hope it doesn’t happen again! On the plus side, the rest are doing great!

Apparently I was super worried about the chicks last night. The night went something like this:

9 PM – Hubby takes a shower, I start to fall asleep on the couch.

9:10 PM – Uh oh, what is that sound! Sounds like a chick in distress. Oh, that’s just the puppy snoring on the old couch.

9:30 or 10 PM – Hubby wakes me up, I move to the bedroom and go back to sleep.

10:23 PM – Wake up, dreaming chicks were all gone. Fall back asleep. Toss & turn a lot.

12:43 AM – Wake up to another weird noise. What is that!? After listening I determine it is the puppy barking in her sleep, so she’s having a rough night too. But where is she!? I get up and find the bedroom door open (unusual) and the puppy on her couch. Fine, she should be okay there. Then I tiptoe downstairs and watch the chicks. All still alive!

1:05 AM – Back to bed.

3 ish AM – Wake up dreaming of a new idea for a Criminal Minds episode. Eventually fall back asleep.

6:43 AM – Sam (our medium size lab) decides I’ve slept long enough and should wake up and let him outside. I do so after making a mental note that human children are a very bad idea and could be the end of any kind of sanity for me…

Enjoy your Sunday, check back later for my Sunday Stroll!